StettlerLocal.com July 2, 2021 @ 5:30PM
The, newly renovated, Jewel Theatre re-opened on the May long weekend to a sold-out crowd and opens tonight, for the first time in over a year, with no restrictions.
Like most entertainment industries, COVID hit the theatre industry hard. Theaters were among the first businesses to close in 2020 and last to open. Stettler’s Jewel Theatre had been closed, with the exception of a couple of showings this past fall, since March of last year.
Rose Chapman has been the Manager of the Jewel Theatre for six years and says COVID was devastating for the local theatre.
“No movies means no income. Our Friday popcorn sales were the only thing that kept us going at all. It is really wonderful to see people back in the theatre again. ” says Chapman.
In December of 2020 the 69 year old theatre was purchased by Rairdan Services, Inc., a Stettler owned and operated digital marketing agency. Company owners, Bryan and Wendy Rairdan, started major renovations on theatre in January 2021. The final list of renovations includes a new handicap washroom, a replacement of all the original cast iron plumbing lines, electrical upgrades throughout the building, numerous upgrades to the concession area to include a new bar menu, the addition of large tables in the theatre, a kitchen area for a new food menu, and a state-of-the-art fire alarm system.
“We knew that the best we could do for the theatre while being shut down during COVID was to ensure all the necessary repairs, maintenance, and renovations were done. The Jewel is a cornerstone of our community and we want to make sure it stays that way for many more years.” - Wendy Rairdan, Owner Jewel Theatre
Despite the renovations, the nostalgia of the historic theatre is still seen everywhere. The new decor hints of the 1950s with pictures on the wall from when the theatre was being built in 1952, the old marquee that was replaced has been mounted inside the theatre’s auditorium doors, the old movie projector is still on display in the lobby and the original menu board was repaired and is hanging on the wall in the theatre entrance.
The Jewel Theatre will be celebrating its 70th anniversary next year and owners and staff are already planning celebrations.
“The Jewel is a unique piece of Central Alberta’s History. We love hearing the stories of long-time married couples' first dates st the Jewel, about the first movie people saw at the Jewel, stories of how the old film projectors worked, and the many people still in the community who had their first job at the Jewel. We have lots of fun things planned for the community next year to celebrate its amazing history.” says Rairdan.
For more information on the Jewel Theatre go to jewltheatre.ca.
Carson Ellis, Reporter
Disclosure: StettlerLocal.com and the Jewel Theatre are owned by Rairdan Services, Inc.